Adiga, a joint venture between Canada's McMaster Universityand United Kingdom-based biopharmaceutical company Circassia, is focused ondeveloping and commercializing Canadian allergy-related research in medicalscience and technology. Adiga is currently conducting a clinical trial incollaboration with investigators from the AllerGen NCE Inc. network,headquartered at McMaster University, to collect blood samples from patientswith allergic rhinitis who are receiving treatment with an investigationalpeptide allergy vaccine. These samples will be applied to a biomarker discoveryand validation program that has been established and refined by the PROOFCentre, a not-for-profit organization that develops and implements biomarkertests to better manage patients with organ failure and to prevent diseaseprogression.
"We are excited that the biomarker pipeline we have beenrefining over the last seven years will play a critical part in the discoveryof biomarkers related to peptide allergy vaccines," said Dr. Bruce McManus,director of the PROOF Centre, in the official statement about thecollaboration. "More importantly, once these biomarkers have been discovered,we will be able to develop diagnostic tests that will support the developmentof products for quicker relief from allergy symptoms as well as for moreeffective clinical management of those suffering from allergic rhinitis."
Typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis include a scratchythroat, sneezing, itching and watery eyes, and although these seem like minorirritations to many people, they can lead to significant debilitation fromearly spring through the end of autumn—sometimes year-round depending on thetype of allergy—and can impair not just quality of life, but also productivityat work or school.
"As many as 10 million Canadians suffer from seasonalallergies, and I believe that the work we are undertaking with the PROOF Centrewill advance our understanding of immunotherapy and ultimately bringsignificant benefits to this population," said Dr. Pascal Hickey, managingdirector of Adiga Life Sciences, in an official statement. "The identificationof the biomarkers will allow us to better understand the science underlying theeffectiveness of peptide allergy vaccines."
"We saw this collaboration as a way to take full advantageof the strengths of both parties," Dr. Rhonda Wideman, biomarker developmentmanager for the PROOF Centre, explains to ddn. "Adiga, through itsrelationship with industry and McMaster University, brings significantindustrial, clinical and research expertise in allergic rhinitis and allergyvaccines, and an impressive bank of patient samples appropriate for biomarkerdiscovery. PROOF Centre brings a strong and proven pipeline for untargetedbiomarker discovery and development. The time was right because we recognizedan overlap in our strategic interests and several clearly defined smallprojects that we could initiate work on very quickly."
Talks about a collaboration began roughly a year ago, Dr.Scott Tebbutt, chief scientific officer for the PROOF Centre, tells ddn.Adiga and the PROOF Centre have not worked directly together in the past,Tebbutt explains, but researchers associated with both organizations havepreviously worked together through AllerGen on research programs related toallergic rhinitis.
Introductions were facilitated by Judah Denberg, scientificdirector and CEO of AllerGen, and Dr. Mark Larché, a professor of clinicalimmunology and allergy at McMaster University and Canada research chair inallergy and immune tolerance, Tebbutt recalls.
"Adiga put out an RFP for biomarker discovery work, PROOFCentre was invited to apply and ultimately we crafted a collaborative workagreement rather than a contract service agreement," he says.
Although this collaboration is only just beginning, Adigaand the PROOF Centre have identified several other potential areas for futurecollaboration, Tebbutt says, such as the discovery of genomic biomarkers insubsets of T cells targeted by peptide allergy vaccines. Also, they mayconsider validation of biomarkers of peptide allergy vaccines using differenttechnology platforms in timecourse samples taken from larger, independentpatient cohorts, and in the longer term, potentially development and testing ofbiomarker-based molecular tests for predicting allergy vaccine efficacy inindividual patients. Finally, they may consider the extension of biomarkerdiscovery to other Adiga studies being conducted by AllerGen investigatorsthrough AllerGen's Allergic Rhinitis-Clinical Investigator Collaborative.
"There is a large and growing unmet need for better treatments forallergic rhinitis," Wideman says, looking at the value of the currentcollaboration. "We saw this collaboration as a way to increase ourunderstanding of the biological basis of allergic rhinitis and its resolutionthrough allergy vaccine treatment. Over the longer term, we envision that ourjoint work may enable quicker development of more efficacious allergy vaccines,help identify novel vaccine targets and lead to the development of newdiagnostics to identify patients who might benefit most from peptide allergyvaccine therapy."